So Rex Ryan has done it again.
He's once again taken the New York Jets to the AFC Championship Game despite never appearing in a home playoff game yet during his tenure. He's brash, arrogant and not afraid to speak his mind.
And so far, he's been a winner.
You may not agree with his tactics or what he has to say (and I doubt the NFL does sometimes), but he's shown to be one of the few coaches that can talk smack and back it up. And with an entire week heading up to the AFC Title Game against the Steelers, you can be sure that Ryan will say something eventually that will raise eyebrows.
So with that in mind, here are the 10 reasons why his trash talk is good for the NFL.
Be honest, how many of you would willfully watch a mid-week press conference from an NFL head coach? But with Ryan, who's dressed up like his brother and made it "personal" each of the last two weeks, you're all somewhat on the edge of your seats waiting for what Ryan will do next. Very few coaches have been able to do that better.
No matter what you think of him, if you like the NFL, you probably have an opinion. And in a league that seems like it would love the hockey culture of just spitting out cliches to the media, Ryan is a larger-than-life figure that's brought energy and passion to the playoffs when most coaches are trying not to create bulletin board material.
For most of their existence, the Jets have been a mediocre franchise, and even when they were doing well, fans always had the feeling that it wouldn't last. For a franchise that hasn't been to the Super Bowl in more than four decades, that's a lot of baggage. But Ryan not only has his team believing, he has his fans believing. And that's not easy for a Jets fan who's used to disappointment.
Regardless of what you might think of him, the man is a pretty good coach. His aggressive defense was a big reason why the Jets won last week, and while the offense is still inconsistent, when it clicks, it flows pretty well. Ryan's built a winner right now in New York, and considering it's the Jets that's pretty impressive.
As big as the NFL has become, somewhere deep inside the subconscious of every league executive, they like it when the biggest market is involved and excited about football. They like it when the New York teams are relevant, and Ryan has made the Jets relevant on a national stage. Between Hard Knocks and the press conferences, Ryan has successfully marketed the Jets in his tenure the way a college coach markets his program.
We hear that a lot these days, a player's coach. But what does it really mean? I think we're starting to see what it means with Ryan. His Jets have taken on the personality of himself: brash, tough and confident. The players love him and love to play for him. That must be the case, or why else would Giants Antrel Rolle and Kenny Phillips say they want Tom Coughlin to be more like Ryan?
Ryan might be the first coach in a while who's embraced the media and knows how to use it for his advantage. The local media loves him and the soundbites he gives, and Hard Knocks was appointment television this past summer. Even in the offseason, Ryan has found ways to get his team in the news, and if you notice, the Jets have dominated the back pages in New York this season.
Too many times in this league, we have coaches like Bill Belichick and others who, while great coaches, have the personality of a cardboard box. Ryan is interesting, charismatic, passionate and not afraid to poke fun at himself. In a league that's cluttered with cliches and nothingness (just ask the writers who have to talk to Andy Reid every week), Ryan tells it like it is and that's refreshing.
I mentioned earlier how Ryan is a polarizing figure. And while the NFL may not like the things that he says, people sure want to see him. The television numbers for the NFL playoffs have been through the roof this season, and like them or not, people want to see the Jets. They may want to see them lose, but they still want to watch.
The NFL announced on its website that the Jets-Colts playoff game had the highest ratings since the NFL started primetime Wild Card games back in 2002. That should be enough evidence that despite how much people can't stand Ryan and the Jets, they want to watch them.
Ryan is one of those personalities that people love to watch, and as much as the NFL likes to stifle them, they also like it when it brings eyeballs to the screen and has more people watching the NFL. The NFL won't stifle Ryan because it now knows what people want to watch, and as we all know, the NFL is all about the fans (wink, wink).